Welcome from Kirk Trevor
Hi there. This is Kirk Trevor your ICO Music Director and I want to welcome you to my new blog. Every week or so I will let you know what I am doing with the ICO this week and next. I am working this week on auditions for the orchestra. You know that auditions are the one way we have to find new players for the orchestra and so is one of the most important ways of maintaining and hopefully improving the quality of the orchestra.
A few months ago, our long-time Principal trumpet Dan Gosling retired from the orchestra after more than twenty glorious years with the orchestra. Dan was such a wonderful player and he will be sorely missed. It will also be hard to find someone of that quality to replace him. However I am hopeful that the reputation of the orchestra is such that many fine players will want to take on this wonderful challenge of a Principal player position. How do we do auditions? Well we advertise our open positions through our local chapter of the American Federation of Musicians (or the Musicians Union as many of you would know it). We advertise some sixty days before the audition date and take in resumes from interested candidates. We then put together a committee of players from the orchestra who along with myself will listen to these candidates play a specified selection of pieces from the orchestral repertoire. Today will be the preliminary round where each candidate will play for 10 or 15 minutes. Then we will deliberate and decide on three or four that we would like to hear again tomorrow in the Finals (final four!). These candidates will come again and play for us again for a little longer and then we will deliberate again and vote for a winner.
Nearly all orchestral auditions are blind auditions, meaning that we can hear the candidates but not see them. This is to eliminate any semblance of impropriety. We might know personally many of the candidates and it really helps me to not know who is playing, because after a lot of years in Indianapolis, I have heard a lot of players on various instruments playing with our orchestra as extras, and I am sure I have formed some preconceived notions about how I think certain players play. Not being able to see who is playing helps me clear my mind of any preconceptions or distractions (choice of apparel, idiosyncratic preparation routines etc).
I actually get nervous about auditions because the future of the orchestra rests so much on our ability to find the highest quality of players to maintain the standards you and I have come to expect from our orchestra.
Sometimes auditions are the way in which new players appear out of nowhere. This is exciting when someone we did not know before auditions and blows us away! Wow that is an exciting day. Of course because we dont know them, we also have to wait to find out that they can fit into the team. We dont want to find a great player out there and then find out that they are psychotic! wait a minute, aren’t all musicians slightly psychotic!
Next week we are holding auditions for Principal Horn after the tragic death of our beloved Fred Ehnes. Fred was also a member of the orchestra since inception and will be so hard to replace.
We just all hope that the quality of the orchestra is a real turn-on to players in the region and they really want to fill these chairs. The audition process is gruelling and incredibly nerve-wracking. Players get to play about eight to ten different pieces including a solo of their choice. But the committee is listening with highly critical ears. We are judging players on their tone, technique, intonation, musicianship and even intangibles that each judge finds personal to him or her. I hear that players prepare for an audition for months beforehand, preparing for their 10 minutes behind a screen playing to no audience except for the 7 people that they know are sitting on the other side of the screen, determining maybe the future of their musical lives.
I don’t want to make it sound more dramtic than it really is, but it IS pretty dramatic. it is also gut-wrenching for the people who dont make it. Sometimes that is pretty hard for the committee. It is hard to face people that you have just totally or slightly rejected!! I mean some people come knowing that the odds are slim, but others have spent months preparing and maybe get into the Final Four and maybe the final two but we can only offer one person the position of Principal Horn and there are always going to be some people who leave auditions VERY unhappy.
So to all those people that I have ” rejected” over the many years I have been auditioning players around the country…. I AM SORRY! I wish I could have hired all of you. But my budget just wont allow me to.
Next week – November 7th is also our Subscription concert of Beethoven 9 at the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center and I will write next time to tell you about the first chorus rehearsal.